The holidays are over but local food pantries hope people keep the Christmas spirit of giving ongoing.
Donations during the holiday season are typically greater owing to increased hunger awareness and charitable giving, according to several area coordinators. This year’s Christmas holiday boost helped meet the increasing demand for food assistance.
Hunger, however, is not seasonal and remains a chronic concern for many families and individuals long after the holiday surplus is gone.
The following food banks are among many others in the Montcalm County area that need donations to restock post-holiday inventory deficits. They offer a brief summary of their group’s individual needs, donors and distribution numbers.
Funding decreases as need increases
Helen Greenhoe, who manages the Sheridan Food Pantry, said monthly distributions have increased from 40 to 50 families up to 70 to 85 families since last August.
“Every penny helps, and it all adds up,” Greenhoe said.
Shirley Pool, food distribution coordinator at the Belvidere Community Church in Six Lakes, said demand always increases when kids are home from school during summers and holidays. Pool credited donations from Montcalm County Challenge Food Drive, a recent competition among factories and businesses in Montcalm County, as being a major supplier during this past holiday season. This countywide food drive raised $24,000 and 23,000 food items to be distributed among 18 pantries in Montcalm County.
Other contributors to the Six Lakes pantry are Belvidere Community Church, Six Lakes Lions Club and Six Lakes Masonic Lodge.
She hasn’t tallied 2011 distributions, but Pool said more than 10,000 meals were provided in 2010.
“Although overall supplies are low due to a lack of government grant money and individual donations, we try to accommodate everyone,” Pool said. “We have fewer funds to work with, so we have had to cut back on help with fresh food like milk, bread and eggs. Many people would like assistance with paper, cleaning and hygiene products, but we do not have the funding for those items.”
A network of several local churches support Edmore’s food pantry, according to Elaine Leak, who shares the food bank’s organizational duties with her husband, Frank. The Leaks also donate use of the building where the food pantry is located.
The Edmore pantry has gone from helping an average of four families each week to as many as 14. This increase has depleted the pantry’s operating funds by 75 percent (from $8,000 to $2,000) over the last five years.
Elaine Leak said donations are sometimes hard to come by. To promote routine donations, she sends monthly correspondence to inform churches of the pantry’s needs.
“I send letters to let them (churches), let them know how we’re doing and what needs we have,” she said. “Some churches help monthly and some help when they can.”
Burger King in Edmore will again donate 10 percent of each customer’s sales receipt during February. These receipts should be deposited at Burger King in the collection container earmarked for the fundraiser.
Charitable contributions are not included as taxable income if taxpayers choose to itemize their deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A, of their federal income tax return, according to Certified Public Accountant Brian Ross of Ross & Ross in Mount Pleasant.
Ross encourages people to take advantage of this simple opportunity to support a local charity and divert taxable income.
Association Food Pantry
Location: 504 E. Main St. in Edmore, behind Potter’s House Ministries
Contact: Edmore Faith United Methodist Church (989) 427-5575 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Info: Hours are Wednesdays by appointment
Belvidere Community Church Pantry
Location: 6490 N. Miles Road in Six Lakes
Contact: Shirley Pool (989) 365-3264
Info: Hours are by appointment
Dolores Halversen Memorial Food Pantry
Location: 209 W. Washington in Sheridan
Contact: VFW Post 5065 Ladies Auxiliary (989) 291-9680
Info: Hours are from 8:30 a.m. to noon, second Thursday of each month
Angel Food Ministries – Blanchard
Location: 200 S. 4th St. in Blanchard
Contact: (989) 561-5021
Info: Orders taken and delivered monthly similar to the other programs. Call for more information.
Sheridan Assembly of God Food Pantry
Location: 4010 S. Sheridan Road in Sheridan
Contact: Bill Wright at (989) 831-7721 or (989) 291-3996.
Info: By appointment only.
Angel Food Ministries – Greenville
Location: Greenville Church of Nazerene, 10087 S. Greenville Road in Greenville
Contact: Tim Deshaw, host site director, (616) 754-7605.
Info: You can order online at www.angelfoodministries.com.
Greenville Area Ecumenical Food Mission
Location: St. Paul Lutheran Church, 9844 S. Greenville Road
Contact: Candace Larkin at (616) 754-6676
Info: Hours are 10 a.m. to noon, Tuesday and Thursday; 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. Food is available on an emergency basis. Must be resident of the Greenville school district and provide two forms of identification.
Greenville Church of Nazarene Food Pantry
Location: 10087 S. Greenville Road in Greenville.
Contact: Dorothy Wells at (616) 754-7605.
Greenville Community Church – Helping Hands Food Ministry
Location: 6596 Vining Road in Greenville.
Contact: Shirley Bullis or Mark Henry at (616) 225-2105 or www.gcclink.com
Info: Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Pick up pre-packaged food box once a month. Valid ID required.
Greenville Food Kitchen
Location: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on 305 S. Clay St. in Greenville
Contact: Hilda Sovari at (616) 754-3163.
Info: Tuesdays only. Lunch served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and supper from 5 to 6 p.m. Enter through east door.
Hands of Jesus Food Pantry
Location: 1220 N. Lafayette St. in Greenville
(Mailing address is P.O. Box 244, Gowen, MI, 49326)
Contact: Karen Morales at (616) 225-9999 or email email@example.com.
Info: Open every Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed from noon to 1 p.m.) Must bring own boxes and baskets. Name, address, phone number and driver’s license required.
Carson City Food Pantry
Location: St. Mary’s Parish, 404 N. Division St. in Carson City
Contact: Grazina and Al Giroux and Nancy Woodcock at (989) 584-6044 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Info: Hours are from 10 a.m. to noon every Tuesday.Those receiving food must be residents of the Carson City-Crystal Area School District and may come once a month for food.
Frost Seventh-day Adventist
Church Food Pantry
Location: 977 Neff Road in Stanton
Contact: (989) 831-4518
Info: Hours are 10 a.m. to noon on the second Monday of each month.
Helping Hands Inc. Food Pantry
Location: 210 Edgerton in Howard City
Contact: Fred Plath at (231) 937-6758 or email email@example.com.
(Mailing address: P.O. Box 532, Howard City, MI. 49329)
Hope’s Pantry – Hope Lutheran Church
Location: 4741 W. Stanton Road in Stanton
Contact: Gayle Stull at (989) 831-5594 or (989) 831-4462.
Info: There are no set hours. Call to set up appointment.
Association Food Pantry
Location: P.O. Box 350, Lakeview, MI. 48850
Contact: Ted Johnson at (989) 352-6836 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Info: Set appointment Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Must show identification for proof of person and residence. Serving only those within the Lakeview Public School District boundaries.
at Settlement Lutheran Church
Location: 1031 S. Johnson Road, Gowen
Contact: (616) 984-5442.
Info: Food pantry and clothing center operated by Settlement and St. Thomas Lutheran of Trufant. Open on Thursday.
Belding Ecumenical Food Pantry
Location: 301 W. Washinton in Belding
Contact: Rev. Byron K. Davey at (616) 794-2610
Info: Open hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Ionia Seventh Day
Adventist Food Pantry
Location: 721 Elmwood Drive in Ionia
Contact: Marie Gary at (616) 527-6465
Info: Open Tuesdays by appointment.
Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church
Location: 5110 W. Portland Road in Ionia
Contact: Darren Tharp at (616) 527-0970 or email at email@example.com
Info: Open by appointment and written DHS referral needed.
Shiloh Community Church
Location: 8197 Heth St. in Orleans
Contact: Sue Brownell at (616) 761-3584
Info: Distribution on Mondays.
Zion United Methodist Food Pantry
Location: 423 W. Washington in Ionia
Contact: (616) 527-1910
Info: Pick-up is on Wednesdays, from 2 to 4 p.m.
Crossroads Church Food Pantry
Location: 423 W. Washington in Ionia
Contact: Rosie Mellema at (616) 522-4663
Info: Pick-ups are on Thursdays, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Correspondent Robin Miller is an Edmore area resident.